Kempt

world of men's style / fashion / grooming

An UrbanDaddy Publication

Dusting Off: Dressing Up For a Flight

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As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, trends and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off semi-formal air travel.

Peruse, for a moment, this picture from Midway Airport circa 1956. The gentlemen in question are wearing suits, hats and pocket squares—formal even by the standards of the day. They’re dressed for an occasion, an event. In other words, for taking part in the miracle of industrial flight.

Allow us to elaborate»

Plaid and Simple

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Tom Ford’s latest Fall line has a lot of noteworthy goodies—including Moncler-style bubblegooses, windowpane suits and Matthau-esque check undershirts—but what stood out to us was this mildly costume-y velvet-and-plaid ensemble.

Most of the garments in question can be traced back to Mr. Ford’s well-documented yen for the mid-70s, but the tartan pants reach all the way back to the days of Leave it to Beaver. The jacket’s pure Hefner—familiar territory, to be sure—but it’s easy to forget that Hugh started out in the 50s too, even if it was more the decade of Henry Miller than Fred McMurray. Apparently Mr. Ford remembers.

Speed Racer

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Although it’s mostly disappeared from genteel Eastern culture, racing was once one of the main force pushing the limits of technology, mechanical know-how and human endurance. Not bad, considering a lot of them were working without windshields.

ACL points us to these Le Mans shots taken over the course of the annual 24-hour competition. These particular snaps are from ’53, and it shows in the remarkable confluence of ties, hats, and short jackets. Just because they’re on the track doesn’t mean they can risk an open collar. Once upon a time, these were working clothes.

See more of Le Mans»

Pull Up a Stool

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Tumblr is a many-splendored thing, but the casual nature of the microblog, together with the ocean of images now available online, make it perfect for the peculiar phenomenon known as the inspiration blog.

Our current favorite is The Barstool Romantic, a more literary cousin to The Impossible Cool. They’re most impressed by the motorbike style of the 50s—in fact, we know a store they should check out—but the blog is broad enough to throw in a Rimbaud quote, pictures a few Francophone chanteuses, and a quick introduction to flaneurism—something any dedicated man about town should look into.

Out in the Streets

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Stickball—and street games in general—are relics of an earlier time and an earlier city. It’s hard to imagine street games taking hold in a place like Los Angeles the way they did in New York in the 50s and 60s. The street was the front yard for most kids, and it saw more action from tennis shoes than tires.

Since then, the virtual world has tempted kids back inside, but the old guard is putting up a fight. A documentary called New York Street Games is bringing together Old New Yorkers like Regis Philbin and Hector Elizando to reminisce about playing Johnny-on-the-Pony and mourn the loss of the good old days. It’s a little too backward-looking for our taste, but it’s good to know what a common space looks like.

But if they’re really serious about keeping the commons alive, maybe they should give the skateboarders a break.

See the trailer»

Rolling

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At some point in the past 50 years, people stopped using breakfast trolleys, and we doubt anyone is capable of bringing them back—outside of a few ambitious hoteliers.

This item from Espasso makes as good a case for a revival as we could have. Too bad it’s from 1950.

Turn the Page

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One of the great 50s pinups is in critical condition and getting the pre-obituary treatment today.

Although she’s far from a household name, Bettie Page will probably look familiar to any Dita Von Teese fans (and probably anyone especially taken by Ms. Joan Holloway). After a notorious string of pin-up shots in the 50s—which managed to inspire equal amounts of fervent admiration and moral outrage—she disappeared promptly from the public eye for a life of religion, marriage and missionary work, never to be professionally photographed again.

But as anyone interested in the early Playboy days can tell you, her legacy is still very much with us.

A few mildly NSFW mementos of Bettie’s career»

Out in the Country

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Country music has had a rough time for the past twenty years or so, but once upon a time it was still raw, exciting, and entirely pure. Musicians came together at outdoor music parks, playing for whoever drove by. Regional sounds from Nashville, Tennessee; Bakersfield, California; and Lubbock, Texas mixed together to create a uniquely American sound that changed from state to state.

Some of it got recorded, but the vast majority of the acts were lost forever, aside from a few memories and a few old photographs.

Leon Kagarise recorded more than 4000 hours of it, but he also took more than a few pictures, and he’s put the snaps together into a photo-primer on the style of the time, called Pure Country. Anyone who’s ever looked up to Johnny Cash or George Jones could learn a thing or two from it. These were the original rock stars.

Our pick of the pictures»